What kind of person are you?
- One who comes alive at those opportunities to strike out into the unknown without map or sometimes even plan?
- Or one who meticulously makes lists, charts courses with Google Maps and sketches schematics to ensure that all luggage will fit in the back of the car - considering every possible detail determined prior to unlocking the front door.
I like to think I fall into the second category, at least mostly. Or that is what my personality profile says.
But... (there's always a "but," isn't there?)
I don't clearly and cleanly fall into one category or the either. I do make plans, sometimes quite detailed ones, yet I also crave unpredictable and spontaneous adventure. I (actually) find it exciting when my meticulously made plans are smacked awry by real life, almost relieved that I'm no longer "caged" by my expectations.
And hubby, who tends to be spontaneous and impulsive (hence the text message dinging on my cell most afternoons around 3:30 asking what he can pick up from the grocery store to grill - rain, snow or shine), becomes a mad list-maker before camping trips and family outdoor outings or micromanages wife when company is imminently expected.
Personally, I find that a plan frees me when I remember that it is nothing more than a guide. I don't know why it has taken me nearly 50 years to figure that out. Ever since I first started teaching (around the age of 12 - swim lessons), I'd create plans and very rarely follow them to the letter - or even close to the letter.
(Five minute buzzer has sounded...)
(...but I'm continuing!)
A guide gives me security without strangling. A starting point and a base to which I can return without defining. A gentle shove in a direction without confining. Established borders bequeathing freedom to roam at will based on what's best in the actual moment.
That IS how I teach. I make a guide, prepare so that I know my material well, and then rarely actually even look at the plan during the actual lesson. The plan is always there, but off to the side, available but not a script I read. Occasionally I glance at it, making sure we are on track or using it to recenter if our tangent is too far off base...
I've been thinking about this as it relates to parenting young adults - those ones who are out on their own, but not completely.
We've all heard the complaints about how there is no parenting manual. How it is all on-the-job-training.
But that isn't really true.
We have the Bible, and there really isn't anything new under the sun (to quote a much wiser man than I). We have the wisdom of our own parents and others who've walked this path before us. We have our own life experiences. And we have our young adults who are rapidly gaining life experience as well. It is easy to forget that parenting these bigger ones is very much a cooperative effort - a partnership. We can offer suggestions, guidelines, ideas - but the follow-through and outcome really is up to them. Thinking of teaching your kid how to drive. Sometimes it feels safer with a checklist - but no checklist will guarantee specific outcomes, at least not when it comes to this partnership with those living, breathing young adults God has gifted us.
God gives parents to kids to guide them. Family, however, is not a little kingdom where Dad and Mom dictate all.
Guiding, especially with these biggers, is much more a question of influence born out of mutual respect.
A respect we parents earn, beginning back in those beginning days of parenting.